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8 December 2009 - Security Council - Peace and security in Africa: Drug trafficking as a threat to international security - Statement by Mr. Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

(translation of statement made in French)

I thank Burkina Faso for this opportunity for us to discuss the consequences of drug trafficking for international peace and security. I also thank Mr. Antonio Maria Costa for his briefing and take this opportunity to reaffirm my country’s esteem and appreciation for his endeavours and those of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, which he heads. France endorses the statement to be made by the representative of Sweden on behalf of the European Union.

The Security Council has repeatedly noted the role played by drug trafficking vis-à-vis the emergence of conflict in places such as Guinea-Bissau, Haiti and Afghanistan. With respect to Afghanistan, through resolution 1817 (2008), which was adopted as the result of a French initiative, the Council, inter alia, called for improved oversight of the international trade in chemical precursors. Such examples enable us to better understand the mechanisms that make the global drug problem a cross-cutting threat to international peace and security.

First of all, drug trafficking weakens States. It is accompanied by increased crime, including cartel wars and the development of transnational organized crime. It encourages corruption and money laundering, both of which weaken the capacity of Governments to take action. In some cases, it makes possible the financing of non-governmental armed groups. Drug trafficking never occurs by itself; it always goes hand in hand, ultimately, with arms trafficking, money laundering and even trafficking in human beings.

Because of its transnational nature, drug trafficking also contributes to the destabilization of entire regions. The Security Council has laid repeated stress on the threat that drugs pose to West Africa. The magnitude of the economic stakes involved in drugs, and their links with illicit financial flows and the gradual erosion of the very foundations of States, exacerbate conflicts between countries. Organized crime networks are created at the scale of West Africa, then grow and expand to the rest of the continent. They take advantage of the weakness of States in conflict situations and make the return to peace and economic development a more protracted and more difficult process for those States.

Finally, it is increasingly clear that drug trafficking, owing to its links with illicit international networks, jeopardizes international security beyond the regional level. The recent report of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on Afghan opium trafficking demonstrates the role of drug trafficking in funding not only the insurgency in Afghanistan, but also the extremist groups in a number of countries in Central Asia. The terrorist networks finance their activities partially through drug trafficking.

France welcomes the fact that today’s debate enables the Security Council to assess the consequences of drug trafficking for international peace and security. We should now think about the operational ways to better take that factor into account in our strategies for the prevention and treatment of conflicts.

In that regard we attach great importance to regional actions. West Africa is an example, with the implementation of the initiative for the West African coast and the Economic Community of African States (ECOWAS) regional action plan on drug trafficking and organized crime. We also commend the adoption, on 24 November in Nairobi by 13 States, of the plan of action of East Africa, which has to do with trafficking in drugs, weapons, waste, counterfeit medicine, natural resources and persons, and piracy. There are other examples of regional initiatives, especially the Paris Pact.

Then we need to strengthen effective coordination among the United Nations, regional organizations such as ECOWAS and sectoral organizations, including INTERPOL, the World Health Organization and the World Customs Organization.

Lastly, in the Security Council we favour taking this issue of drug trafficking further into account in the analysis of conflicts, prevention strategies, integrated missions and peacekeeping operations. We will accord the greatest importance to all the elements that could be provided by the Secretariat in its various reports to the Council. We again commend the major contribution by the UNODC in the fight against cross-cutting threats, and we welcome the regular statements by its Executive Director to the Council.

More generally, we must seek to better mobilize and use all United Nations bodies competent in the area of fighting transnational threats. We need a global strategy, both geographically and in terms of the sectors covered. Only the United Nations can craft such a strategy and help with its implementation and follow-up.

The fight against drug trafficking is the subject of one of the most long-standing examples of international cooperation, whose one hundred years we commemorated last year. The conventions of 1961, 1971 and 1988 provided an appropriate legal framework, which was usefully completed by the Palermo Convention on transnational organized crime and the Merida Convention against corruption. We call for the universalization and full and complete implementation of those legal instruments.

However, one must note that despite the efforts of the international community, the threats posed by drug trafficking to international security are stronger than ever. The Council therefore will need to remain involved in this issue. My country favours further discussions in this body in the near future.

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